Marks & Spencer is shopping for space to open its first stores in Australia, as part of a bigger strategy to transform itself into a global, multi-channel retailer. The retailer, which operates 766 UK stores and 418 locations in Europe and Asia, plans to open small-format stores that are about one-fifth the size of traditional department stores. Similar small stores in Singapore and Hong Kong feature a range of fashion, beauty products and gourmet foods.
Marks & Spencer Group Plc, the largest fashion retailer in Britain, is hoping a new full line of clothing can help turn around sagging sales. The new collection developed by style director Belinda Earl is aimed to attract women 55 and old back to the stores. "If this range flops, the pressure on the whole M&S management team will rise. There's a lot of work for M&S to get Mrs. Britain back into their stores," said Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital.
Marks & Spencer will roll out radio frequency identification technology to the clothing and home goods departments at its more than 700 UK department stores. The department store chain first implemented RFID technology from Avery Dennison in the menswear department of its High Wycombe store in 2003.
Marks & Spencer called its largest non-food suppliers to a meeting last week in London to ask them to help pay for its programme for refurbishing its stores. Analysts say the move shows how difficult trading conditions are.
Marks & Spencer is looking into opening bank branches inside dozens of stores as part of its partnership with HSBC, a source said. The clothing retailer already offers foreign exchange services at many locations, while credit cards, insurance, loans and other products are available by phone or online. Supermarket chain Tesco also offers insurance and loans at its stores.